Veep Season 4 Premiere Recap: Future Whatever

Matt Walsh as Mike on Veep. Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO
Episode Title
Joint Session
Editor’s Rating

How goes the Selina Meyer presidency? The updated credits reveal that, after enjoying a quick spike in popularity post-inauguration, Selina now finds herself facing headlines like: “Meyer: 8 Month President?” Welp, that didn’t take long.

She’s not the only one having trouble adjusting to the high life. Gary, always taken for granted, is now rarely taken anywhere at all. At one point, Selina literally says, “I don’t need you, Gary.” His precious Leviathan is being manhandled by guys who don’t even hold it properly. He stares longingly at his beloved Selina through the “FLOTUS Window,” which looks directly down onto the Oval. It’s all very Sad Joe Biden.

We know from the beginning that just as Selina begins her speech to the Joint Session, her TelePrompTer will short out, leaving her with nothing but a blinking cursor on a blank screen. How did her team of flying monkeys get her into this mess?

Twenty-four hours earlier: Dan is going through the speech, which is so free of substance, it’s really “just noise-shaped air.” Mike, in a very D.C. move, is juicing now. (“Mike trying to be healthy, it’s like a potato trying to whistle.” Thank you as always, Dan.) You can’t just Google this like a best man’s speech, kids! It’s back to draft, Mike I.ii.a.ii.idk.

Selina wants money for poor working moms, a cause too pure for this cruel, Veep world; clearly this will not make the final draft. But Selina doesn’t know that yet, and she will engage in what the gentleman refer to as a “cock-thumb” with the military: threatening a cut so big it amounts to castrating these bros, who in turn will offer up a reasonable yet still significant cut, amounting to the loss of a single thumb. (Selina: “So, commonly known as ‘negotiating’?”)

Ben assures Selina it’s possible for her to cut and spend simultaneously. In the episode’s best display of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s impeccable comedic timing, she replies: “You can absolutely do two contradictory things at once. For example, I love my mother. But I had to put her in a home. And it’s actually better for her if I don’t visit.”

Elsewhere, Amy is heading up Selina’s campaign office. I am very happy to report that this brings us the return of Richard, who was Selina’s Iowa bodyman and is now Amy’s overeager, incompetent assistant. Amy’s taking a meeting with Erickson, Thornhill’s campaign manager — apparently the best guy in that business — who is soon to be Thornhill’s former campaign manager. Amy and Erickson meet in “a nice room for a lonely suicide or an affair with your secretary,” says Erickson, which Richard booked using the name “Laslow Whitaker.” “Was Vladimir Drawattentiontomyself already taken?” SOLID ZINGER, ERICKSON. Erickson wants Amy’s job. Amy just wants an almond croissant and sparkling water. Richard probably wants to write that down, but it’s okay, he can totally remember it using his brain!

Jonah is trying to make his way in the new VP’s office, which is a very weird assembly of overgrown frat guys. He can’t tell if he is being mocked or used or adored or what; pretty typical for Jonah, I guess. Also, Teddy (hey, Patton Oswalt!) straight-up grabs Jonah’s balls in a hallway. After Teddy tells Jonah not to show up to the veep’s office without giving Teddy a heads-up first — a pointless display of power from a basically powerless man, a.k.a. politics in a nutshell — Teddy stands with his arms folded as an elevator door closes … behind him … and then strides off down the hall.

At first it looks like Selina can get exactly what she wants: $50 billion in cuts by killing a submarine program that has been obsolete for decades. (As she puts it: “That was a cock-cock!”) But of course, at the last minute, the military industrial complex makes an appearance to tell Selina’s lackeys that such a cut would outrage lawmakers in the nation over who rely on a military program about as useful as an anti-unicorn strategy to employ citizens in their districts.

A frenzied, last-minute editing fiasco ensues, wherein Selina suggests some other options for cuts — “Just end high school in the ninth grade or something!” — and Gary realizes, just as Selina’s TelePrompTer goes dark, that he took her glasses because they made her look like she had a penis (“which you could totally pull off,” he tells her), leaving her functionally blind at the podium.

The speech that finally makes its way onto her screen, after she bee-bops her way through a sort of mourning ceremony for the ex-president and First Lady (neither of whom are dead), is the wrong draft. She inadvertently gives an extra $10 billion to the military, killing her program to help poor women.

Selina gathers her troops around her desk in the Oval Office. “This speech was supposed to perfectly define my presidency. Whole cities of children were going to be saved from poverty. Instead, that money is going to fund obsolete metal, giant dildos.” Alas, I have a feeling that speech did perfectly define her presidency.

And a few other things:

• Selina’s small-talk game is possibly at an all-time low: “Thank you for making history with the first woman president! Well, I am. You’re not, Michael.” “Well, I’m getting jiggy with it!” “God, I can’t even hear myself! Am I talking?

• Selina’s response to news of two fatalities: “Yeah, ’cause I’m the president, see? Everything is my fault now.”

• “Maybe we can put Afghanistan on eBay. Get $10 for that.”

• Selina’s riff when faced only with the words FUTURE WHATEVER: “Whatever we have in store cannot be known. But given time, it can be understood. The past was once the future. The future is, I should say, unknown. It is unknowable.”

Compliment of the episode:
Selina, describing the coffee the Navy chiefs serve: “It’s like Colombian tongue sex.” Runner-up is Dan, describing, naturally, himself: “My entire career just flashed before my eyes. It’s incredibly impressive.”

Insult of the episode:
Mike asks Sue if POTUS has time to discuss the speech. Sue: “Can mice levitate, Mike? Can they levitate and fire lasers out of their mice eyes?” “No?” “Then we have both asked each other equally ridiculous questions.”

Jonah shall henceforth be known as ...
If he has any say, “Joe-B-Wan Kenobi.”